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the Gauntlet

Tuesday's council chambers a hive of activity

Impressive student support shows up to question university administration

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The MacEwan Student Centre council chambers were a hive of activity during the not-so-routine Student Legislative Council meeting Tuesday night.

Provost Alan Harrison, with an entourage of university administration members, addressed students and their concerns surrounding proposed tuition increases.

Inside the chambers were the usual Students' Union representatives ­-- including those from the medical, engineering, business and law faculties -- members of the Graduate Students' Association and the media.

Questions rotated between SU officials, those watching in the gallery and the mob of students amassed outside the chambers who asked Harrison about administration's proposed tuition changes for an hour and a half.

Calgary Medical Students' Association 2012 class president Rithesh Ram said he appreciated Harrison meeting with students on this occasion and the medical students he represents twice before.

Ram described the event as unveiling "nothing new" and said the meeting "rehashed answers that [he] had heard already."

"For the most part, they do their best to answer questions that I haven't asked," said Ram.

Ram was nevertheless dissatisfied with what he felt were inadequate answers and limited positive outcomes resulting from the proposed increases, despite Harrison's reassurance that they will maintain the U of C's quality of education.

The number of students outside the chamber (about 500) who showed up to protest the potential increase was an impressive accomplishment.

"I would never have thought that this number of people would actually mobilize and show up," said SU vice-president external Kay She, who noted that the U of C is otherwise not very politically active.

"This shows that students are really outraged. I have never seen students mobilize for any issue like this on campus."

She said that she was impressed with students and the quality of questions they posed to Harrison.

"They asked very tough questions, stood their ground, they were not intimidated. They questioned central administration about everything from fiscal mismanagement, where their priorities lie, their ballooned salaries," said She. "Universities want students to come out as critical thinkers and I think that this was a great sign that our students are coming out as critical thinkers."

She also said that although she thought the event was enough of a dialogue for one day, more questions need to be asked and she would like to see opportunities for further discussion with Harrison.

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